Meat-Free Protein Sources

The Best Plant-Based Protein

Meat-free alternatives pack protein to fuel your muscles without unhealthy fats

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The Best Plant-Based Protein  // protein: protein rich meal picture c Nicole Franzen

Image: Nicole Franzen

Power Plants

Runners need more protein than couch potatoes (obviously) and more even than other athletes (surprisingly). “Protein is broken down into fuel during long runs and used to repair muscle damage after a workout,” says Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D. But hang on before you grill that steak. Studies show the unhealthy saturated fat and cholesterol found in diets heavy in red and processed meats are associated with heart disease and cancer. On the other hand, plant-based diets can reduce your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes and keep weight in check. That’s why runners—even carnivores—should consider eating more vegetarian sources of protein, like soy, legumes, and nondairy milk. It’s a good way to meet your protein needs and sneak in additional carbs, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These six nonmeat options make delicious additions to any meal.

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